Scholarly Comments on Academic Economics

Maximization Is Fine—But Based on What Assumptions?


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The Prologue to this issue discusses how the flatness of economics leaves out aspects of reality that do not fit neatly into its formulations. I agree that much is left out, but I am not so sure methodology is to blame. Rather, the omission is caused by our restriction of economic methodology to particular assumptions about reality. In this essay, I first show that something like utility maximization has long been present in Christian theology. To be sure, economics is ‘flat’ in its style and, unlike religion, excludes by custom certain scholarly tools which would complement the flat approach. I argue, however, that the essential difference is that some religions, in particular Christianity, take their start from belief in factual assumptions that economics ignores.